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The Big Jones Cookbook

Recipes for Savoring the Heritage of Regional Southern Cooking

The Big Jones Cookbook

Recipes for Savoring the Heritage of Regional Southern Cooking

An original look at southern heirloom cooking with a focus on history, heritage, and variety.

You expect to hear about restaurant kitchens in Charleston, New Orleans, or Memphis perfecting plates of the finest southern cuisine—from hearty red beans and rice to stewed okra to crispy fried chicken. But who would guess that one of the most innovative chefs cooking heirloom regional southern food is based not in the heart of biscuit country, but in the grain-fed Midwest—in Chicago, no less? Since 2008, chef Paul Fehribach has been introducing Chicagoans to the delectable pleasures of Lowcountry cuisine, while his restaurant Big Jones has become a home away from home for the city’s southern diaspora. From its inception, Big Jones has focused on cooking with local and sustainably grown heirloom crops and heritage livestock, reinvigorating southern cooking through meticulous technique and the unique perspective of its Midwest location. And with The Big Jones Cookbook, Fehribach brings the rich stories and traditions of regional southern food to kitchens everywhere.
Fehribach interweaves personal experience, historical knowledge, and culinary creativity, all while offering tried-and-true takes on everything from Reezy-Peezy to Gumbo Ya-Ya, Chicken and Dumplings, and Crispy Catfish. Fehribach’s dishes reflect his careful attention to historical and culinary detail, and many recipes are accompanied by insights about their origins. In addition to the regional chapters, the cookbook features sections on breads, from sweet potato biscuits to spoonbread; pantry put-ups like bread and butter pickles and chow-chow; cocktails, such as the sazerac; desserts, including Sea Island benne cake; as well as an extensive section on snout-to-tail cooking, including homemade Andouille and pickled pigs’ feet.
Proof that you need not possess a thick southern drawl to appreciate the comfort of creamy grits and the skill of perfectly fried green tomatoes, The Big Jones Cookbook will be something to savor regardless of where you set your table.

288 pages | 36 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2015

Chicago and Illinois

Food and Gastronomy


“In The Big Jones Cookbook, Fehribach has provided a firm sense of culinary place and heritage when it comes to southern food, along with recipes you can’t wait to make. He takes readers on a journey of the background of each recipe, both in his life and from a historical perspective. Time to go back to Chicago and enjoy eating his food in person again!”

Nathalie Dupree, co-author of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking

“You need not be from the South to get the South and southern cooking; you simply need to be devoted. Fehribach is very devoted, complete with a side serving of biscuits smothered in savory debris gravy! He brings to his subject the factual ferocity and curiosity of a historian. He cooks it up with the contemplation and invention of a true artist. He serves it to us with genuine heart. I’d like to tell you a whole lot more about why I am giving The Big Jones Cookbook a wide space on my kitchen counter, but I need to go now and find the ingredients for Reezy-Peezy, ca. 1780. You should, too.”

Ronni Lundy, author of Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken

“Fehribach is a bighearted anthropologist, history nerd, and kick-ass kitchen technician—in other words, the ideal chef to introduce Chicagoans to the pleasures of regional southern cuisine. The Big Jones Cookbook distills the magic of his restaurant, the way Fehribach’s cooking manages to honor southern culinary traditions and ingredients in a resolutely contemporary way. This is food that tells stories, and here are all the hero recipes we’ve been craving, from Big Jones’s legendary fried chicken to classics like gumbo z’herbes to new originals like chicken-fried morels and benne ice cream. The Big Jones Cookbook is major news on the southern-food front.”

Matt Lee and Ted Lee, authors of The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen

“Fehribach has committed to memory the southern culinary canon, defined by writers like Grosvenor and Egerton. In The Big Jones Cookbook, he channels their ethics and aesthetics, shaping an agrarian approach that he calls ‘modern homestead cooking.’ From turnip greens with potato dumplings to pawpaw panna cotta, Fehribach renders a cuisine that's both erudite and stomach-rumbling.”

John T. Edge, coeditor of The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

“Through extensive research, intuition and personal experience, Fehribach gives context to many of our great southern classics, and creates some of his own along the way. His reverence for southern cooking and the people who help sustain it shine through in every recipe. I have already dog-eared dozens of pages!”

Susan Spicer, chef and owner, Bayona, New Orleans

“Much as Rick Bayless has done for Mexican food, so Fehribach has done for Southern culinary traditions, excavating old recipes, researching the foodways that surrounded them, and seeking out hard-to-find ingredients, some of which seem exotic though they once grew abundantly, even in the Midwest.”

Chicago Tribune

“I love Big Jones, and Fehribach’s dedication to preserving and resurrecting dishes from a wide variety of Southern cuisines, and how those dishes are grounded in regional history. . . . I was not only expecting recipes that would bring the history of my own home country to my table; I was expecting them to be enriched with Fehribach’s lifelong interest in history and geography. I wasn’t disappointed. . . . It’s a concise introduction to Fehribach’s approach, which draws on home cooking and high cuisine, using modern techniques to ‘reboot’ old dishes.”

Chicago Magazine

“Fehribach may hail from the Midwest, but that doesn’t stop him from being a regional Southern cooking expert and taking the time to teach us a thing or two about it. The Big Jones Cookbook has recipes divided by geography. I happen to love this, because as we all know, preparations vary greatly depending on whether you’re in the coastal Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia, south Louisiana, or the Delta. With a little history and a lot of recipes, Fehribach takes you through regional cuisine that’s not only mouthwatering, but also easy to pull together.”

Washington Independent Review of Books

“A historic (and ground-breaking) take on Southern food.”


“An assiduous student of southern cooking, Big Jones’ owner Fehribach takes advantage of farm-fresh meats and produce to illustrate that even in an era of franchise fried chicken, genuine southern cooking can rise to haute cuisine. Scouring the legacy of the South’s best chefs, such as Edna Lewis and Paul Prudhomme, Fehribach advocates for stone-ground grains and old-fashioned sorghum molasses and lard. Recipes range from simple, traditional pimiento cheese and cornbread through freshly crafted headcheese and boudin sausages. He reveals his own long-guarded secret Kentuckiana fried-chicken recipe. The text’s depth and intelligence make this an appropriate cookbook far beyond regional boundaries.”


“Organized by regions of the south, it’s a cookbook built on cookbooks, as Fehribach is a devoted digger into long-forgotten volumes. And there are fascinating sidelights on everything from the Italian etymology of the low-country slave dish reezy-peezy to the old Virginia origins of chicken-fried steak. At the same time, it’s not a book that belabors its subject—a more scholarly tome is up next for Fehribach—and it’s a highly practical book, based on oft-requested recipes time-tested in Big Jones’s kitchen.”

Chicago Reader, "Best New Cookbook from Chicago"

“Paul is unique in that he doesn't look forward at what Southern food could be, he's looking backward at what it once was. He loves 100 year-old handwritten recipes, time-honored technique, and heirloom ingredients.”

Huffington Post

Table of Contents

     Skillet Cornbread
     Sally Lunn
     Farmstead Biscuits
     Sweet Potato Biscuits
     Cheddar Biscuits
     Buckwheat Banana Pancakes
     Antebellum Rice Waffles
     Salt-Rising Bread
     Abruzzi Rye Bread
     Awendaw Spoonbread
Inspirations from the Lowcountry
     Benne Oyster Stew
    She-Crab Soup
    Carolina Gold Rice and Boiled Peanut Perlau
    Pickled Shrimp
    Creamy Grits
    Shrimp and Grits
    Reezy-Peezy, ca. 1780
    Mustard Barbeque Sauce
    Sea Island Benne Cake
    Roux Icing
    Sea Island Benne Ice Cream
    Coconut Cream Cake
    Cream Cheese Icing
South Louisiana
    Crawfish Boudin Fritters
    Gumbo Ya-Ya
    Cajun Seasoning
    Creole Boiled Rice
    Gumbo z’Herbes
    Crawfish Étouffée
    Barbecued Shrimp
    Creole Seafood Seasoning
    Red Beans
    Voodoo Greens
    Brown Butter Roasted Palm Hearts
    Debris Gravy
    Eggs New Orleans
    Poached Eggs
    Crab Cakes
    Potatoes O’Brien
    Bread Pudding
    Cherry Bavarian Cream
The Appalachian Highlands
    Sautéed Ramp Greens with Benne
    Grilled Asparagus with Cottage Cheese and Lemon
    Pimiento Cheese
    Old Virginia Fried Steak, ca. 1824
    Chicken-Fried Morel Mushrooms
    Sawmill Gravy
    Turnip Greens with Potato Dumplings
    Pan-Fried Ham with Redeye Gravy
    Buttermilk Pie
    Jelly Roll Cake
    Salty Sorghum Taffy
    Chicken and Dumplings, ca. 1920
    Sweet Tea–Brined Pork Loin
    Fried Chicken
    Duet of Duck with Bourbon Giblet Jus
    Potted Duck
    Rutabaga Confit
    Creamed Brewster Oat Groats with Parsnips and Hen of the Woods
    Braised Sausages with Sauerkraut and Parsnips
    Mashed Potatoes
    Charred Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Pecans
    Black Walnut Sorghum Pie
    Short Crust for Sweet Pies
    Chocolate Pecan Tart
    Pawpaw Panna Cotta
    Persimmon Pudding Pie
    Salty Sorghum Ice Cream
The Delta and Deep South
    Cheese Straws
    Boiled Peanuts
    Fried Green Tomatoes
    Goat Cheese and Potato Croquettes
    Pecan Chicken Salad
    Crispy Catfish à la Big Jones
    Crowder Peas
    Sweet Potato Hash
    Mississippi Mud Pie
    Red Velvet Cake
The Bar
    Sazerac Cocktail, ca. 1940
    Chatham Artillery Punch
    The Consummation
    Sweet Leaf
    Blue Yodel No. 1
    Bloody Mary Jones
    Death in the Afternoon
    Cherry Bud Bitters
    Rhubarb Julep
    Brandy Fix
The Pantry
    Clarified Butter
    Basic Mayonnaise
    Green Goddess
    Standard Canning Instructions for Shelf-Stable Pickles and Preserves
    Bread and Butter Pickles
    Five-Pepper Jelly
    Okra Pickles
    Raspberry Preserves
    Elderberry Jelly
    Apple Butter
    Pickled Peaches
    Preserved Quince
    Kumquat Marmalade
    Savory Benne Crackers
    Worcestershire Sauce
    Basic Vinaigrette
    Bourbon and Brown Sugar Mustard
The Whole Hog
    Boudin Rouge
    Head Cheese
    Pickled Pig’s Feet
    Crackling, aka Gratons
Notes on Sources

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